By Adam Andrzejewski
If the White House payroll is a leading indicator of the president’s commitment to expand government then taxpayers have a reason for concern.
Projected four-year costs of Biden’s White House payroll could top $200 million. For comparison, inflation adjusted, the Trump administration spent $164.3 million (2017-2020) and the Obama administration spent $188.5 million (2009-2012).
Today, on July 1st, the Biden administration released the annual Report to Congress on White House Office Personnel. President Biden hired czars, expensive “fellows,” “assistants,” and spent on a much larger First Lady (FLOTUS) staff.
The payroll report included the name, status, salary and position title of all 567 White House employees costing taxpayers $49.6 million. (Search Biden’s White House payroll and Trump’s four years posted at OpenTheBooks.com.)
Since January, the Biden administration has quickly staffed up. Here are some key findings from our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com:
- There are 190 more employees on White House staff under Biden than under Trump (377) and 80 more than under Obama (487) at this point in their respective presidencies.
- $9.6 million increase in payroll spending vs. the Trump FY2017 payroll. In 2017, the Trump White House spent $40 million for 377 employees, while the Biden payroll amounts to $49.6 million for 567 employees. All spending amounts are inflation adjusted.
- Hires include 320 female staffers ($28.9 million salaries) vs. 240 male staffers ($20.8 million salaries). In terms of top staffers — Special Assistants — there are 52 female ($6.3 million salaries) vs. 10 males ($1.2 million).
- Currently, there are 12 staffers dedicated – at least in part – to Dr. Jill Biden vs. five staffers who served Melania Trump in her first year (FY2017).
- Counts of the “Assistants to the President” – the most trusted advisors to the president - are the same (22) in for the Biden administration and the Trump and Obama administrations. This year, these advisors make $180,000.
This year’s list of key advisors includes names such as Ron Klain (Chief of Staff), Susan Rice (Domestic Policy Council), Jennifer Psaki (Press Secretary), and Kate Bedingfield (Communications Director), Mike Donilon (Senior Advisor), and Steve Ricchetti (Counselor).
In the Trump first-year, Steven Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Omarosa Manigault, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and 17 others made salaries of $179,700. In Obama’s first-year, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and twenty others held the title with top pay of $172,000.
-The most highly compensated White House Trump staffer? The most highly compensated staffer is Molly Groom ($185,656), Policy Advisor For Immigration, a crisis issue for the administration. The second highest paid is Elizabeth Hone ($183,164), Senior Policy Advisor For Broadband. The administration proposed $100 billion in government ownership of broadband.
In Trump’s administration (2017), Mark House, Senior Policy Advisor, had a salary of $187,500. In Obama’s Administration (2009), David Marcozzi earned $193,000 “on detail” from Health and Human Services.
Dr. Jill Biden has 12 staffers including press, communication, and advance trip directors; media coordinators and schedulers. There are senior advisors, and even a couple of social secretaries. Five of the employees also serve the president in some capacity.
In 2009, former First Lady Michelle Obama faced criticism for her twenty-four assistants, advisors, aides, and social secretaries. Laura Bush had a staff of eighteen. In 2017, Melania Trump, in her first year, had a staff of five employees.
These 12 White House employees serving First Lady Dr. Jill Biden (five also serve the president in some capacity) cost taxpayers $1.35 million and include:
- Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, Chief of Staff to the First Lady and White House Gender Policy co-chair ($180,000);
- Elizabeth Alexander, Director of Communications for the First Lady ($155,000);
- Carlos Elizondo, Social Secretary ($155,000) and Deputy Social Secretary, Liz Hart ($80,000)
- Press Secretary, Michael LaRosa, $100,000
Special Initiative Czars
Starting in 2009, President Obama came under fire for hiring special initiative czars. From 2017-2020, we found no evidence of “czars” on Trump’s payroll.
However, Biden has czar(ed) up – naming at least 21 czars to date, with plans to fill 55 positions. These include: National Climate Advisor Regina McCarthy ($180,000) and a Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry – who is listed in press accounts, but doesn’t appear in the payroll data. Others include Jeff Zients ($36,000), the COVID-19 czar.
Critics at Politico have already questioned, “How many czars does the Biden administration need?”
White House Leadership Development Fellows
Starting in 2015, President Obama instituted a new fellowship – a White House Leadership Development program with an initial class of sixteen. During the Trump years, the program was dormant.
On June 4th, Biden appointed 22 members to the fellowship program. None of these appear in the payroll disclosure.
Like most presidents, Joe Biden doesn’t donate his salary. Donald Trump was the first since John F. Kennedy to donate his pre-tax quarterly salary to government agencies.
Following tradition, Dr. Jill Biden isn’t paid as First Lady. However, she is the 1st First Lady maintain an outside income – her government salary as a community college professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
Although the White House personnel budget is an infinitesimal part of the $4 trillion federal budget, it could be a leading indicator of Biden’s commitment to expand the size, scope, and power of the federal government.
Note: we requested comment from the White House and will update the piece if there is a response. All inflation adjusted numbers cited use the US Inflation Calculator.
Search the salaries of White House personnel (2017-2021), here.
2020: Trump’s Leaner White House 2020 Payroll Saved Taxpayers $23.5 Million Since 2017
Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.